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SXSW Review: Harmontown

Score:A-

Director:Neil Berkeley

Cast:Dan Harmon, Jeff Bryan Davis, Erin McGathy, Spencer Crittenden, Steve Agee, Jack Black, Alison Brie, Chris Hardwick, Jillian Jacobs

Running Time:95 Minutes

Rated:NR

Harmontown is Neil Berkeley's documentary about Community creator and showrunner Dan Harmon.  It is a no-holds barred film that takes you into the depths of a self-proclaimed "self-destructive person", and he does it in such a brilliant way.

On my second day of SXSW, I was trying to find a good movie to watch, and I saw this title and thought "hmm"¦ I wonder how this will be", and from the very beginning it's great.  The movie takes place right after the giant dust up between Dan Harmon and then-Community cast member Chevy Chase.  Dan Harmon has a podcast, HARMONTOWN, and he played the infamous voicemail that Chevy left on Harmon's phone which ultimately led to Harmon being fired from the very show he created. So he and his co-host Jeff Bryan Davis take the podcast on the road to do Harmontown from different comedy clubs.

The great thing about this movie is that it doesn't hold anything back, and there are a few times in the movie where you actually hate Dan Harmon"”and he would be first in line to say that he hates himself.  In fact, towards the end of the film he even calls himself the villain of the story and that Spencer, a true Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master who steals the movie at some parts, is the true hero.  While following the podcast around, Neil interviews everyone from the cast of Community to Ben Stiller and Sarah Silverman, who had hired Dan and his friend Rob Schrab to work on her show The Sarah Silverman Program, and even they don't hold anything back.  Sarah admits to firing Dan because of his alcoholism and controlling nature. 

Like any good movie, there is always another side quest for the main "hero" to finish, and in this case it was two pilots that CBS and FOX had hired Harmon to write. So not only do we get this in-depth and personal look at this man's life and relationships with friends and girlfriends, we see him working on scripts that never even got finished.

The quality of this documentary was exceptional.  I saw three documentaries at SXSW.  One was good and one put me to sleep.  This was a great movie for anyone to watch and especially anyone wanting to work in the entertainment industry.  It shows just how brutal the Hollywood machine is and also, just what working in that field can do to a psyche if it isn't strong enough.  If this comes to a theater near you, more than likely some indie theater, go and watch this.

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About Robert Bexar II

Robert Bexar II

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